Well first of all I'll start with the reason I chose to build this ground station instead of using a laptop
So after many times of carrying the laptop around assembling and disassembling parts and cables xbees usb cables and such I figured my laptop days as ground station will be numbered
Because of this I decided that I needed a ground station that would save me the need to deal with the assembling and disassembling in the field and will be more durable then my laptop
First I had to plan my shopping and inventory list
I had an old laptop with a broken screen that did not survive its frequent trips around and my poor handling skills And an older laptop screen that i planned on using with the other laptop mother board in order to do it I had to buy a lcd adapter that will let me use the vga port on the motherboard with the lvds laptop screen
That's about what I had to start with
The second thing was to look for a case that will be large enough to contain the mother board the screen another small screen that will fit in the remaining space and some lcd meters for giving a better look mostly and some 3 position switches
After many searches I found an old stock of Pelican at an affordable price and size that is suitable for my budget and needs i measured the space that left after installing the main screen and figure out that a 5 inch screen will just fit
then i needed to think of a way to install everything in a way that would give me easy access to the parts just for any case
after trying multiple materials Plexiglas plywood and others which are not very easy to work with without machinery which i didnt have access to i found just what i needed a pvc foam it is not the perfect material consider his toughness which is lacking but it is very easy to work with and so i chose it and start to cut holes and install the switches and lcds
for the finishing touch of the station i used a vinyl sticker in a 3d carbon woven pattern which gave the panel a nicer look
some technical details:
for powering the station i chose to use a sla battery instead of lipo for some reasons
first it is easier to deal with in terms of charging it and is much safer then lipo
second it is cheaper and heavier so I can save money and use it for balancing the case
i also wanted to be able to hook the station to ac power when its available
so i searched for some ac/dc converter that will meet my power demends and it turned out that i missed it in my calculation by a bit but for the moment it is working and i see no reason to change it but when it brake i'll certenly buy a bigger one capable of outputing more current
I then wanted to charge the battery while using the ac/dc convertor and giving the station more reliability i found a charger which is also a ups that is just what i wished for
also used step up regulator from 12v to 19v for powering the motherboard
and a step down regulator from 12v to 5v for powering the usb hub
both regulators are adjustable with lcd meters for convenience reasons and capable of outputting more current than consumed
bom for the station is:
laptop mother board and screen - free
pelican 1520 - ebay
LCD Controller Board DIY Kit - for connecting lvds screen to the motherboard - ebay
VGA 2AV driver board 5inch HSD050IDW1 800×480 screen - ebay
12v to 19v step up convertor with lcd for powering the motherboard - ebay
temperature meter with two sensors (inside and out of the case) - ebay
power meter with 2X lcd voltmeter and amp meter - ebay
12v to 5v step down convertor with lcd for powering usb hub - ebay
picoUPS-120 12v dc micro ups system - ebay
4X 3 position 6 pins switches - bought at a local electricity store - ebay
4X Delta Fan for Compaq 12vdc .15A 40mm EFB0412HHA - ebay
3d carbon woven pvc vinyl sticker - deal extreme
ac/dc convertor 100-240v input 12v output 3.2A or higher :) - ebay
pvc foam sheet - ebay
access point modem asus wl-330ge - ebay
usb hub 7-ports - ebay *
thermal skin for wires - ebay
* if you want to build your own usb hub you can do it using fe1.1s chip or similar very easily
**and so on with the other regulators it is just to my believe cheaper and faster to order it assembled :)
features of the station:
up to 2.5 hours of use on a single 12v 7Ah sla battery
secondary screen switchable between av and vga (via pc hdmi port and vga converter)
wireless connection to antenna tracker (xbee repeater, Bluetooth, 5.8Ghz)
access point modem - for multiple connection to the station (andropilot for ex)
can be easily modified and upgraded
sorry for my poor writing and description capabilities/skills
the uav station is not done yet still need to do some more things I will update the post as It go
all the project parts can be found in the post
pelican 1520 - ebay
Old laptop was kinda slow and used way too much power, so I got one of these instead:
Uses about 0.5A at full speed and runs Mission Planner without any issues at all. Hooked it up with small 3A ubec.
Slightly reluctant to open it up and connect the on/off switch to the case switch, so may just keep it in sleep mode.
Since the laptop is no longer in the lid, I could ditch the fans and put in a set of small 3watt speakers there instead.
They're powered by a PAM8403 board like this:
Much happier with this setup. The laptop version would start to struggle once the voltage dropped below 11.5v, this one didn't really suffer until it hits 8v, when I tried to see how low it would go and then it was only the monitor that struggled.
The SLA wasn't very happy at that point, but I may replace it with a smaller one anyway, as I now pull about 1.2A at full power.
i jast have a laptop with a av2usb cupture card
I love this!
This is impressive! The only complaint that I have is that now I have something else to spend my wife's money on.
Thanks for the excellent write up!
We use a Intel NUC in our Wing GCS to give plenty of power. A customer has just bought one with an i7 processor and a 512GB SSD, which is a bit of an overkill for Mission Planner, but means they can manipulate heavy image and data file in the field.
tech has only one direction
when i build my uav i had to use a via nano or was it pico board cant really remember which had prob with the kernel all time but that was practically my only option back at the days also had some expensive electronics and cameras on it
with the ground station since i used a big screen and didnt have any weight or power issues i could use what ever i wanted but since i had a laptop with broken screen i just scavenge the mother board and use it with some old laptop lcd screen cutting the station costs down
by the way very nice and professional gcs you built there
if you can share some more photos details and the bom that would be great
It was quite difficult to program,I have been worked out on this..
Thanks for your kind comments Elad.
Here are some more photos and there are more details on the Worthington Sharpe website.
Flight testing (The rapidly fading light usually adds to the fun when get ready for testing.)
We've added folding aerial mounts now but they are not fitted here.
Internal Aluminium frame to add stiffness
The latest build
How does the lid stay up without lid stays?
Nice but too heavy 16kg???